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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Perceptions and behaviors related to hand hygiene for the prevention of H1N1 influenza transmission among Korean university students during the peak pandemic period

Jae-Hyun Park1, Hae-Kwan Cheong1*, Dae-Yong Son2, Seon-Ung Kim2 and Chang-Min Ha2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Sungkyunkwan University College of Medicine, Suwon, Korea

2 Sungkyunkwan University College of Medicine, Suwon, Korea

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:222  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-222

Published: 28 July 2010

Abstract

Background

This study was performed to better assess the perceptions, motivating factors, and behaviors associated with the use of hand washing to prevent H1N1 influenza transmission during the peak pandemic period in Korea.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey questionnaire was completed by 942 students at a university campus in Suwon, Korea, between December 1 and 8, 2009. The survey included questions regarding individual perceptions, motivating factors, and behaviors associated with hand washing for the prevention of H1N1 influenza transmission.

Results

Compared to one year prior, 30.3% of participants reported increasing their hand washing frequency. Female students were more likely to practice more frequent hand washing. Women also perceived the effectiveness of hand washing to be lower, and illness severity and personal susceptibility to H1N1 infection to be higher. Study participants who were female (OR: 1.79-3.90) who perceived of hand washing to be effective (OR: 1.34-12.15) and illness severity to be greater (OR: 1.00-3.12) washed their hands more frequently.

Conclusions

Korean students increased their frequency of hand hygiene practices during the pandemic, with significant gender differences existing in the attitudes and behaviors related to the use of hand hygiene as a means of disease prevention. Here, the factors that affected hand washing behavior were similar to those identified at the beginning of the H1N1 or SARS pandemics, suggesting that public education campaigns regarding hand hygiene are effective in altering individual hand hygiene habits during the peak periods of influenza transmission.